Geelong plumbing company fined $20,000.00

Geelong court: Mills Plumbing & Airconditioning fined $20,000 for fall at Rex Gorrell car dealership. We all appreciate that falls from height remain the leading cause of death and serious injury in construction.

A GEELONG plumbing firm was fined $20,000 yesterday after one of its apprentices fell through a ceiling into the office of a Rex Gorrell car dealership.

Geelong Magistrates’ Court heard the worker had only been employed at Mills Plumbing & Airconditioning three weeks when he made the surprise appearance in the reception area in December 2016.

The man fell 2.6m and went to Geelong hospital with ­bruises and grazes. He remains working for the firm, and wrote a letter in its support.

The court was told the firm was usually a stickler for safety procedures, and had a plan for working at the car dealership.

However, changed conditions meant the apprentice and a supervisor had to crawl through the ceiling.

Despite the possibility of a fall of more than 2m, the ­employer failed to create a new safe work statement for the ­operation, and it was that failure that landed it in court ­yesterday.

The court heard if the workers had paused to go through that process they would likely have installed temporary flooring or walkways in the roof space or an ele­vated work platform, and the fall would have been prevented.

WorkSafe prosecutor Tanya Puri said the man was “lucky” his injuries were not more ­serious.

“There was a plan in place but it wasn’t followed,” Magistrate Peter Mellas said.

Mr Mellas didn’t convict Mills Plumbing & Airconditioning, but put it on a year-long adjourned undertaking, ordering it pay $15,000 into the court fund for local charities.

The company was also ­ordered to pay more than $5000 in legal costs to WorkSafe, and the court heard it had spent about $10,000 on specified health and safety training since the incident.